The town of Gananoque is losing its largest baseball diamond and that has many people crying foul.
A petition with over 450 names went to council to try to save the diamond. But with the closure going ahead, sports courts and eventually a soccer pitch could soon occupy some of that diamond space.
“This is more about bringing soccer and improving tennis than it is around elimination of a resource,” said town councillor Dave Osmond.
“These decisions don’t come easily. It’s not an easy decision to say, ‘let’s get rid of something that volunteers put together,’ but what we want to try and do is increase facilities and opportunities for all ages in Gananoque and the programming we can offer.”
The diamond, located behind the Lou Jeffries/Thousand Islands Recreation Centre, is part of an area that serves as the community’s sports “hub” — with a skateboard park, BMX track, a youth soccer field, the Gord Brown Memorial Canada 150 rink and the ball park.
Arlene Cartwright is the diamond’s namesake and was the driving force behind the establishment of the facility back in the early 1990s.
“Everyone is very, very shocked that this is going to go forward, and yeah, it’s all taken us by surprise,” Cartwright said. “There’s some things in life that don’t make any sense and this is one of them.
“I just don’t understand why they would tear down a perfectly good facility and that’s going to cost money to do and put in a facility that the majority of people don’t want.”
Dwindling usage of the Cartwright diamond and being able to use another ball park behind town hall also led the decision.
“I’m excited about it;it should be a time to celebrate things that we’re gaining and growing in the area,” said town councillor Mike Kench.
“I really hope that the members that put this thing together — this piece behind me — can understand where we’re coming from, that we’re trying to build a better community sports offering in the area.”
Councillor Osmond says construction on the first phase, the sports courts, could begin this fall.